Meet the Press   |  December 01, 2013

2: One-on-one with Cardinal Timothy Dolan

David interviews the Archbishop of New York on Pope Francis' effect on the Catholic Church and the intersection of faith and politics.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're back on a sunday morning now to pope francis and his drive for change in the catholic church . this is the latest example called the joy of the gospel. in his first major policy gospel released this week, the pope slams economic inequality and calls on the rich to share their wealth. he's becoming the first non-european pontiff this last march, he has broken many deals of his predecessors, but what does the pope think about controversial issues such as obama care, gay marriage and abortion? before the pope's manifesto, i spoke one on one with one of the most influential triggers of the united states , cardinal timothy dolan , archbishop of new york .

>> welcome to "meet the press."

>> thank you, david . happy thanksgiving . you bet.

>> i want to talk about some faith, some politics, but let's start with the church. what a remarkable year it's been with pope francis and the pope francis effect. his humanity has touched people the world over, not just catholics , and has made him an internet sensation, among other things. how do you describe this francis effect on the church, and as i say, on humanity more broadly?

>> all i know, david , i thank god for it, that's for sure, and i see it every day. i can't walk down the streets of new york , which i do a lot, without people stopping me and saying, cardinal, i'm not even a catholic, i'm not even a believer, but i love pope francis and thanks a lot for voting for him. because they love him. you put the finger on it when you spoke about his humanity. his sincerity, his complicity, his generosity, his hilarity. i think jesus is coming to us as catholics and humanity of the world through pope francis .

>> the church doctrine remains the same, but you have described it as a change of tone.

>> i would say a change of tone, a change of strategy. a pope by his nature cannot make doctrinal changes. he can make a lot of changes in the way, the style, the manner in which it's presented. you know the best analogy of that? john xxiii . by the way, they're saying pope francis reminds them of john xxiii . he was pope in 1953 . but he can do it in a way that makes it more radiant.

>> could it get confusing if you do that?

>> it could, but one of the appeals of francis is we have to take some risks. if we're just timid and afraid and afraid to go out and engage people and meet people and take some chances in presenting the faith, we're going to shrivel up and die.

>> but he said we can't worry about birth control and abortion, that we worry too much about those issues. is that a problem for you, that he believes that?

>> that he would say that?

>> no, not at all. i gave him a standing ovation when he said that. most of the time i say, i don't know that it's so much the church obsessed with that, it's the world obsessed with those things. they're always asking us about it. i look at myself, david , in my almost 37 years as a priest. rare would be the times that i preached about those issues. so francis is right. he's saying first things first. first let's talk about god, about his mercy, about his love, about his forgiveness, about his invitation, about his embrace, about his promise for life eternal through his son jesus. you talk about that and then morals, doctrine, that will fall into place .

>> but some of the moral debates, this is where there are debates, this is where there is tension.

>> sure.

>> what is the natural evolution of a change in tone, a change in the packaging of this pope to actual change in church policy on some of these matters?

>> yeah, i don't know if that's too new, though. i would say since the time of jesus christ , there has always been tension, difficulty, conflict in the application of the teaching. i mean, i look at my jewish neighbors. they have the torah. there's the law, pretty clear. the application is always going to bring some debate in conversation. we christians, we catholics have the sermon on the mount . the application, that's where the rubber hits the road. that's where there will always be conversation and a little bit of disagreement.

>> what is his effect on american politics , for instance, on some of these issues, be it abortion or gay marriage ? what is the impact?

>> on politicians or on catholics ?

>> well, on the public debates, on the political debates in this country around these issues.

>> i will tell you this. i would say for committed catholics , and thanks be to god there is a lot of them. i love them, i'm grateful for them this thanksgiving weekend, they would say what pope francis has done is reminded us of the latitude of catholic believes and catholic principles. those who would try to closet us, maybe, and just in what you might call below the belt issues be that gay marriage or abortion or prostitution. that's important and the teaching on that is unwavering. but pope francis has said wait we forgive, the way we help the poor, the way we reach out to the sick, fort gthe forgotten, those on the side of the road , that is as strong an imperative as anything else.

>> what about obama care? you have voiced your displeasure with certain aspects of it in terms of man dates for hospitals and so forth. what about the overall goal of it? do you think it will ultimately prevail? would you like it? do you think it's important for the country that universal health care insurance is available?

>> yep. and i'm glad you allow me to make that distinction, david . we bishops have really been in a tough place because we're far universal comprehensive life-affirming health care . the bishops of the united states , can you believe it, in 1919 came out for more affordable, more comprehensive, more universal health care . that's how far back we go in this battle, okay? we're not johnny come latelies. we've been asking for reform in health care for a long time, so we were kind of an early supporter in this. where we were bristling and saying, uh-oh, this is excluding the unborn baby so we began to br bristle at that. and secondly we said, wait a minute, we catholics are kind of among the pros when it comes to providing health care , do it because of the dictates of our conscience, and now we're being asked to violate some of those. that's when we begin to worry and draw back and say, mr. president, please, you're really kind of pushing aside some of your greatest supporters here. we want to be with you, we want to be strong, and if you keep doing this, we're not going to be able to be one of your cheerleaders. that, sadly, is what happened.

>> are you disappointed on another debate on immigration, that it appears that republicans in this case don't see a pathway any longer toward getting this done?

>> immigration would be one of those issues that shows that those who try to pigeonhole bishop's pastor's catholics are wrong. on health care we might be upset with the democrats, the administration. on immigration we're saying to the house of representatives , which is dominated by the republicans, you guys got to get your act together. this is the best chance we've had in fair and just immigration reform . it's in your lap and doesn't seem to be going anywhere, and we're not going to let you off the hook. so yeah, we're disappointed there as well.

>> let me touch on gay marriage . this week illinois is becoming the 16th state , including d.c., to allow same-sex marriage. do you think this is evolving in such a way that ultimately it will be legal everywhere, or is it the opposite, that there will be a backlash and the status quo will be maintained?

>> i would be a pollyanna that there doesn't seem to be a stance of doing this. sometimes we've been caricatured as being anti-gay, and as much as we say we're pro marriage, we're not anti anybody. i don't know, when you have forces like politicians, when you have forces like some opinion molders that are behind it, it's a tough battle. i do think, though, to get back to your question, david , back in 1973 with roe v. wade , everyone said, this is a fargone conclusion. it's going to be back-burnered. to this day it remains probably the most divisive issue in american politics . if you look at some of the changing attitudes you say, wow. we're beginning to affect the young with the pro-life message.

>> you don't think the gay marriage debate is over?

>> no, i don't think it is.

>> i think of thanksgiving as i think of the holidays generally as a wonderful opportunity to separate from our lives and to think about gratitude. however, i don't have to tell you how commercial these holidays become and we think more about recipes for the holiday. let me ask you, your eminence. what's your recipe for expressing gratitude?

>> by the way, i'm not against recipes. i kind of like them myself. the right recipe is this. i think it comes down to hue millty, which is the key, both the people of the book , jews and christians, would say hue mimility is the key virtue. without god, we're nothing. with god, everything is possible. we realize every breath we take is an unmerited gift from a lavishly loving god, that prompts us literally to fall to our knees and say thank you. it also reminds us we're not the center of the universe . it's not about me, it's about him and his people. that's gratitude, that's faith, that's humility, that's thanksgiving .

>> and there could be -- we laugh about it often, but there could be family pain and dysfunction, but it's an opportunity, again, to separate and say, where is my perspective in my life?

>> is it a paradox every year that there is pain at thanksgiving . oh, my god, my family is dysfunctional, but you wouldn't be anywhere else at thanksgiving . you're already looking forward to going back there, and that's the beauty of family and community.

>> good to see you.

>> you, too, david . happy thanksgiving .

>>> when we come back here, the politics of health care and a term we haven't heard in a while, hillary care . david brooks , andrea mitchell ,